EU halts pesticide exemption for French sugar beet farmers

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EU halts pesticide exemption for French sugar beet farmers

Following a recent EU Court of Justice’s ruling, sugar beet farmers in France will not be allowed to use pesticides containing neonicotinoid chemicals, Reuters reports.

The component, which is known to cause damage to bees, had been granted an up to three year exemption from the French government.

Upon the court’s ruling, local sugar beet growers group CGB condemned the "brutality of the decision", which also comes at a very inconvenient time, just a few weeks before spring planting.

Severe losses from crop disease in 2020 had forced authorities to overlook the potential harm to the ecosystem, with the local government preparing a third and final annual dispensation to cover the 2023 sugar beet crop.

Growers in the area have been facing drought-related issues as well, with considerable yield losses registered during the past season.

This puts France’s sugar production capacity on hold until new pesticide alternatives can be approved.

"This verdict is a reminder that administrations and politicians are bound to the law, not to the interests of the pesticide industry or industrial agricultural lobbies," said anti-pesticide association PAN Europe’s executive director Martin Dermine to the media outlet.

Christian Spiegeleer, head of French sugar makers group SNFS, told Reuters that French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau has called a meeting on Monday with sugar beet growers and sugar manufacturers to further evaluate the situation.

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